Why I Use “Hereby” in Language of Performance

I recommend saying Acme hereby grants the License to Smith, not Acme grants the License to Smith, with hereby omitted.

Why? I’ll let The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language 860 n.3 (2002) explain for me:

Clauses like I promise to return the key and I order you to leave are ambiguous, having also less salient interpretations in which they are statements about my habitual behaviour (“I habitually promise to return the key / order you to leave”): in this interpretation they are not performatives since they do not themselves constitute a promise or order.

Readers would never be confused by this ambiguity, but I don’t want them to have to eliminate the unintended meaning, even if they’re not aware that they’re doing so. So I use hereby to eliminate the unintended meaning. As CGEL notes, on page 1461, hereby essentially means “by virtue of this speech act.”

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.